"To live greatly we must develop the capacity to fave trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility"
I ride because it is my stress relief. It is the only time that my brain shuts off and all the annoying thoughts about my day, my to do list, the next day, my future plans, money concerns, etc... all go away. From the moment I see Gem out in her pasture all I think about is riding. As I brush her out my brain is blissfully quiet and I think of nothing at all. I always start on one side up by her head and work my way to her butt. I then go to her head and say "can I have my Gemmie hug?" and wrap my arms around her neck and give her a huge hug followed by a kiss on the nose. I then brush her other side, pick out all 4 feet and go get her tack. In the beginning she was super tense and had her ears back (a sure sign of an unhappy horse) with the hug. Now she lowers her head over my shoulder and hugs me back :) I let out a big sigh and all my stress is gone. Once I am up in the saddle the whole world melts away except for the view between her ears. It is amazing.
With my endurance spurs metaphorically hanging up on the wall, I needed a new focus for Gem and a new outlet for "competition" for me. I put that in quotes because with endurance and running I was pretty solidly middle pack, but still the feeling of accomplishing something was what I was after. I turned to running and worked hard all summer. I completed 3 additional half marathons. I really enjoyed it and even now I look back on those and feel the pride of crossing the finish line 13.1 miles away from the start. I no longer run, but hope to again someday.
For Gem, I wanted to continue trail riding with the hubs and Pete because we loved it. My biggest hurdle with her was/is riding in new places alone. She gets so worked up and her primary response is speed. If she goes fast enough she won't have to look at scary things. She spooks like crazy too. Not being the bravest sort myself, I needed to find a way to get her out and remain safe. So, I began to take her out jogging with me. I swear all the ladies at the barn thought I had completely gone off the deep end finally. I would show up in running clothes, attach a lead rope to Gem and head to the fields and trails across the street. 40 minutes later I would return sweaty and out of breath. I actually really enjoyed it. She was horrible at first. She would get tense, look at everything and almost run me over. I was constantly elbowing her to move out of my space. The first few times we barely made it 10 feet jogging before she would either plow ahead of me or try running me over. I would make her stop immediately, back up and stand. Once she calmed down we would go forward again. We did the every 10 feet the first time, maybe every 50 feet the next and slowly worked up to only doing it on rare occasions.
The hubs and I had some amazing trail rides that summer. We found two new parks within 3 hours and frequented them about twice a month. And finally, that summer was the debut of my first true solo trail ride on Gem.